Arsenal need to overhaul Manchester United if they are to qualify for the Champions League this season.
Unai Emery’s side are currently fifth in the Premier League, one point behind Manchester United and 10 adrift of third-placed Tottenham Hotspur, and they face the two sides before the end of the season, though it is unlikely they will catch up with Mauricio Pochettino’s men.
Arsenal’s run-in: Southampton (H), AFC Bournemouth (H), Tottenham Hotspur (A), Manchester United (H), Wolves (A), Newcastle United (H), Everton (A), Watford (A), Crystal Palace (H), Leicester City (A), Brighton & Hove Albion (H), Burnley (A).
Arsenal appear to have a relatively soft run-in between now and the end of May, but games against Spurs and Manchester United come back-to-back and could prove integral to their chances of finishing in the top four.
An encounter with Leicester at the King Power Stadium, too, looks like a banana skin on paper, with Claude Puel’s men offering the pace and precision needed to unsettle Emery’s team.
One would expect the Gunners to take six points from their next two matches, against Southampton and Bournemouth, but a game against Spurs is always a highly-charged encounter. A point would be a solid result for Arsenal – Mauricio Pochettino’s men need to win every game if they are to lift the Premier League trophy, but that is highly unlikely – while the visit of United offers plenty of intrigue.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men beat Arsenal in the FA Cup recently, running out 3-1 winners at the Emirates Stadium, while they played out a 2-2 draw in the Premier League when Jose Mourinho was still in the United dugout. Expect a United victory away from home.
A game against Wolves at Molineux, too, could be interesting. Nuno Espirito Santo’s men have enjoyed some sterling results against top teams this season – they have drawn with Manchester City at home, beaten Chelsea and Tottenham, and also earned a 1-1 draw with the Gunners at the Emirates Stadium – and the north London side should be pleased with a draw.
Games against Newcastle, Everton, Watford and Crystal Palace could see Arsenal take maximum points but a trip to Leicester does not bode well. Leicester won 3-1 at the King Power Stadium last season and they have all the tools needed to deal Arsenal a major blow by repeating that result.
Brighton and Burnley should be beaten in the final two games of the season but it remains to be seen if that will be enough for the Gunners to secure Champions League qualification.
Predicted points: 26 – Arsenal finish on 76 points
Arsenal will surely better last season’s total of 63 points, which saw them finish sixth.
Liverpool finished fourth last season, picking up 75 points, but it will almost certainly be tighter this term.
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United have the advantage of holding a one-point lead over the Gunners and it does feel as though Arsenal need to win the majority of their games if they are to overhaul Solskjaer’s side.
The match between the two is unlikely to settle matters but it will have a major effect on the Gunners’ finishing position.
Losses to Leicester and United, plus dropped points against Spurs and Wolves may well disappoint Arsenal, but the Red Devils are unlikely to win every game – this is a wide-open race.